Today was a huge step forward! The ARPS Food Service staff seems to be getting into a good rhythm and things have been going much more smoothly this month. It's fairly typical for everything to be quite hectic during the first month of school, but this year was particularly challenging due to the sheer number of changes happening within ARPS Food Service. Some of the big changes include a new employer (the Town, since we are no longer contracted with Whitsons), a new Collective Bargaining Contract, 100% new food/beverage vendors, more than a dozen new recipes, 25% new staff across the department, and a brand new Director of Food Service. Wow! That would be a lot for any staff member at any organization to handle.
However, from the outside looking in, my staff make it look easy. I've already heard so many positive statements and observations from ARPS parents, staff, and community members about how different things feel, look, and taste this year! I couldn't be more excited about this.
Today we had our monthly Kitchen Manager's meeting. The goal of this meeting is to bring together our senior leaders in the department to discuss the menus, recipes, any upcoming events, and other topics that the kitchen staff might want to discuss. I've gotten into the habit of preparing a draft menu (1 month ahead) and today we looked at the November menus. The 5 kitchen managers give their feedback to me, propose changes, and we make them together in real-time. This two-way communication is important for having the team be more empowered and encouraged to share their ideas and concerns with their peers and myself.
Last month I learned how the September menu was particularly challenging for them on certain days/weeks. The kitchen managers provided me with some great feedback for the October menu, and today they said that things were going a lot better this month! I couldn't be happier knowing that my staff are less stressed and more excited about coming to work each day. It is a delicate balance of implementing more from-scratch meals, made with local ingredients, while also considering the staff's morale and energy.
In short, I have a super-team here within ARPS Food Services. They are all doing so well considering the many changes that were presented to them this year. I couldn't be more proud of them. Together, we'll keep making more changes to improve all aspects of the ARPS Food Service program, and the best is definitely still to come! Stay tuned.
Director of Food Service for Amherst, Pelham, and the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District. We'll be posting updates to the program as we go along!.